A magical run came to a heart breaking end for Coach Kyle Brewer and his Manchester Greyhounds baseball squad as they took the field at Chillicothe’s V.A. Memorial Stadium for a Division IV district semi-final match up with the Waterford Wildcats last Saturday evening. After wins over Eastern Pike and Portsmouth Notre Dame propelled the No. 10 seeded Greyhounds to their first sectional title in five years, the team had plenty of momentum going into last Saturday’s game.
Sometimes, though, baseball can be be a humbling game and sometimes the best team on the field doesn’t win. It seemed to many in attendance that the Hounds were a stronger team than No. 6 seeded Waterford, but in the end, it was the Wildcats who got the one lucky play that allowed them to squeak out a 2-1 win over the Hounds.
“I was very happy with how our guys performed on the field tonight,” said Coach Brewer. “My staff and I kept telling the kids not to get caught up in the moment and the facilities and just go out and play ball.”
“I felt like we did that but we just had things that didn’t go our way in one inning.”
The loss overshadowed another outstanding pitching performance by Manchester sophomore Sean Frost. In three postseason games, Frost pitched 21 innings and allow just two earned runs, none last Saturday night against Waterford in his fourth straight complete game effort. All season, Brewer has emphasized the importance of his young pitchers throwing first-pitch strikes and on Saturday, Frost did that on a consistent basis all night.
For a high school baseball game, this was a dandy, a combination of strong pitching and solid defense, as Waterford’s Clay Hayes also fired a complete game and got the win.
Frost only allowed one base runner through the first three frames, that runner reaching on an error. The Greyhounds got the game’s first run in the bottom of the second as Tyler Brummett led off the inning by lining a double over the head of Waterford left fielder Cody Paxton. Brummett went to third on a wild pitch and with one out, Colton Thornburg drew a walk. With Bryan Young at the plate, Thornburg took off for second and the Waterford catcher made the throw on to second base, too late to get Thornburg. On the throw, Brummett took off for home and made it standing up as the double steal worked and the Greyhounds took a 1-0 lead.
The score remained that way until the fateful top of the fourth inning. After the first two Waterford batters were retired, the pitcher Hayes reached on a missed third strike. On a 2-2 pitch with center fielder Mitch Ginther at the plate, the Waterford courtesy runner took off for second and Ginther played the hit and run perfectly, grounding the ball through the vacated right side. Manchester right fielder Leevi Francis charged the ball but on the turf of V.A. Memorial, the ball got past him and rolled all the way to the fence. Courtesy runner Tucker easily scored and Ginther raced all the way around the bases to cross the plate with the run that gave the Wildcats a 2-1 advantage.
The next hitter, third baseman Cameron Bosner blooped a single between third and short, but Frost got out of the inning by getting Daulton Shriver on a ground ball to third.
Now trailing by a run, the Hounds still had four shots at Hayes to make a comeback, but the Waterford right hander was up to the task. He retired the Hounds in order in the fourth and fifth, then allowed a base hit to Frost to open up the bottom of the sixth. With Hunter Conley at the plate, Frost attempted to steal second but for the second time in the game was thrown out, though both were very close calls that could have gone either way.
Frost worked out of a two on, one out jam in the top of the fifth and retired the Wildcats in order in the sixth and held the Cats scoreless again in the seventh, giving his team one more opportunity to keep their dream tournament run alive.
That outcome was not in the cards, however, as in the bottom of the seventh, Hayes got Brummett to fly to center for the first out. Nick Hoskins then legged out an infield hit to first base, putting the tying run aboard. Thornburg struck out for the second out, leaving Young as the last hope. The freshman third baseman battled to a 3-2 count, before lifting a fly ball to center field that Ginther gathered in for the game’s final out and the final out of the Manchester season.
The Greyhounds could only manage five hits off Hayes, two of them by Frost, and the Manchester starter allowed just a trio of hits over seven innings of work.
Even though their final season record was just 7-14, the young Greyhounds brought a little bit of baseball excitement back to the river town and Coach Brewer is proud of what his team accomplished.
“I can’t say enough about how hard our kids played the last half of the season,” said Brewer. “They have really grown and matured and are starting to understand the game of baseball as a whole.”
“This young squad was hit so hard with adversity right from the beginning of the season, but they took the adversity and turned in into complete motivation.”
Mark Carpenter can be reached at 937-544-2391 or on Twitter @adamscosports.
000 200 0 —2
010 000 0 —1
Waterford Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Huffman 3-0-0-0, Ginther 3-0-0-0, Paxton 2-0-0-0, Hayes 2-0-0-0, Tucker 0-1-0-0, Ginther 2-1-1-0, Bosner 2-0-1-0, Shriver 2-0-0-0, Farley 3-0-0-0, Burns 2-0-1-0, Brooker 0-0-0-0, Team 21-2-3-0.
Manchester Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Frost 3-0-2-0, Conley 3-0-1-0, Applegate 3-0-0-0, Brummett 3-1-1-0, Hoskins 3-0-1-0, Thornburg 2-0-0-0, Young 2-0-0-0, DeAtley 1-0-0-0, Francis 1-0-0-0, Team 21-1-5-0.
Extra-Base Hits: Brummett 2B
Waterford Pitching: Hayes (W) 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 72 pitches.
Manchester Pitching: Frost (L) 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 101 pitches.